In a recent study, published in the journal Depression and Anxiety in August, researchers found that the types of yoga that seemed to have the greatest effect on improving depression were meditation-based types. Meditation-based types of yoga might include various styles of hatha yoga like Kripalu, Integral, Viniyoga, restorative yoga, and of course, LifeForce Yoga.
This study, conducted at the Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine at University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, searched five medical research databases through January 2013 for all randomized controlled trials related to yoga and depression. The researchers identified 12 studies that involved a total of 619 participants, though only three of the studies were consideredexceptionally high quality. In the randomized, controlled trials, depressed participants using yoga were compared to depressed participants doing nothing different (usual care), using aerobic exercise or using relaxation methods.
The results of all the studies together revealed that the short-term effects of yoga appeared to improve the symptoms of patients with depression when compared to patients receiving only usual care. When compared to depressed patients using relaxation and aerobic exercise, depressed patients using yoga also appeared to have greater improvements in their symptoms, though this evidence was not as strong. Patients with a diagnosed depressive disorder or with particularly higher levels of depression were more likely to see the benefits of yoga, based on these studies’ findings.
The researchers also found limited evidence that yoga helped decrease the symptoms of anxiety in patients when compared to using only relaxation methods. In my experience in working with students and clients, I have found this to be true. People with rajasic mood-mind state (anxiety) seem to benefit most from a physical practice, even a simple chair practice that includes attention to sensation and breath,before they engage in relaxation methods like yoga nidra. As this research indicates, meeting the anxiety (rajasic state) with a more active practice may be more effective than beginning with a relaxation technique. A more active practice, followed by yoga nidra or another form of relaxation/meditation, helps the busy mind begin to calm down and releases the body’s tension so that relaxation is easier to achieve. To read the abstract and for more information please click here.
Learn a meditative yoga practice from a LifeForce Yoga Practitioner in your area.
To begin LifeForce Yoga at home, you can practice with our DVDs LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues Level 1 and Level 2. To attend a LifeForce Yoga workshop, please check our Events Calendar to find an event near you!